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Iran’s moves must be closely monitored. The sweeping reconciliation in the Arab world

May 9, 2023 

The Flag Report

Date: 09/05/2023 Time: 18:47

Pinhas Inbari μικρή By Pinhas Inbari

The sweeping reconciliation in the Arab world and of the Arabs with Iran, and the endless rounds with Gaza alongside Palestinian terror in the West Bank, have aroused distress among the public and among important commentators that the whole world is against us again, and how we will organize against the Middle East, which is reuniting. Well, it is good to have a watching eye, and to closely monitor all developments in the region and in the Palestinian arena, in order to meet any evil, but a sober examination of the situation, both regional and Palestinian, shows that it is not as bad as it looks and according to the current state of affairs, Israel’s security challenges are rooted more in the government’s moves than in regional developments and in the Palestinian arena.

Let’s start with the Palestinians. The prediction that the Palestinians will unite against us with all the means at their disposal, classic terror attacks alongside vehicular attacks, knives both in the territories and inside Israel do not materialize, and even the terrorist organizations do not succeed in uniting, and the situation today is no different from a year ago, and the concerted effort to create strategic turmoil during Ramadan failed in no small part because of Israel’s decision not to allow Ben-Gvir to cause riots on the Temple Mount. Let’s hope that there will be someone who will restrain him on Jerusalem Day and the Flag Parade, and we will also get through this event safely. The same Khader Adnan, whose death was the spark that lit the last round with Gaza, had arrived in Nablus as the of the Lion’s Den first appeared, but was expelled immediately.

The Tanzim of Nablus saw him as an enemy, not a partner. The result is that the phenomenon of Jenin’s joining forces between Fatah, Jihad and Hamas under Iran’s guidance has not expanded to the entire West Bank, and Israel has succeeded in isolating the phenomenon together with the Palestinian Authority to Jenin. The Lion’s Den is also unable to deploy in the West Bank and in practice, this is a phenomenon confined to Nablus, and not a phenomenon at all on the West Bank. Saleh Arouri coordinates terrorist activity in the West Bank, and so far has failed. The Ramadan he planned together with Iran was supposed to give him a springboard to lead the West Bank, the man without whom it is impossible to reach an agreement, but nothing happened, and let’s hope it won’t either.

This brings us to Hamas’s reconciliation process with Saudi Arabia, and to the Arab reconciliation between Iran and Israel, and with all due respect to Israel, — at the basis of these moves has nothing to do with Israel. Saudi Arabia and Iran are not uniting to “destroy” Israel, and it is doubtful whether the name of Israel was even mentioned between them in the reconciliation moves. So what happened? What connected Saudi Arabia with Iran, is it a long-term strategic move, or a short-lived tactical move? At the root of the matter is the end of the war in Syria with Assad’s victory, and the lesson that Sunni Arabs learned from the war. First of all, all the anti-Assad groups were divided, while Assad and Iran were one front. Putin was a strong prop for Assad, and Assad’s war crimes were joined by Putin’s war crimes, while the United States, despite warning Assad against using chemical weapons, did nothing when he used these weapons against civilians, and the Arab world saw that the United States could not be trusted.

When Saudi Arabia became embroiled in the war in Yemen, there was no one to help it in the face of Houthi missile attacks, and even Trump did nothing when its oil facilities were heavily bombed in a direct Iranian attack. On the other hand, Iran has become embroiled in civil disobedience, it manages to control it, these are waves that come and go, and Iran itself needs time off to strengthen its internal infrastructures. The test for Iranian-Saudi relations will be in Yemen. Will the Houthis really stop firing missiles at Saudi Arabia? As long as this is maintained, normalization with Iran will last. It has nothing to do with Israel, and normalization with Israel is possible, but not with a government that seeks fights with the Palestinians and is guided by messianic groups on Temple Mount. And here we come to “reconciliation” with the Palestinians.

There is a deep rift between Saudi Arabia and the Palestinians, linked to the failure of the Saudi reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah in Mecca in 2007. Saudi Arabia hoped that in the shadow of Mecca’s sanctity, the two movements would reach an agreement, and they did, and did not insult the generous hosts, but immediately after the talks, Hamas expelled Fatah from Gaza by force of arms and divided the Palestinian Authority between Gaza and the West Bank. Saudi Arabia was not so hurt by the failure of mediation, everyone failed before it, but by the insult that the Palestinians inflicted on Mecca. Since then, Saudi Arabia has severed its ties with Hamas and stopped aid to Ramallah, renewing it intermittently only under American pressure. In recent years, after Ramallah adopted a policy of neutrality between Sunnis and Shiites in the Arab Storm, Saudi Arabia stopped aid altogether.

Mahmoud Abbas was invited to Iftar by King Salman, and several Hamas detainees in Saudi Arabia were released to Jordan, but the real test will be the renewal of Saudi aid to the PA, and so far, this has not happened, and in my opinion will not happen. So far, Palestinian terrorism is well confined, and has not succeeded in breaking forward, the Arab reconciliation moves with Iran are mainly tactical, and have nothing to do with Israel. In the assessment that nothing will change Iran’s determination to attack Israel, not directly, but through the Arabs, Iran’s moves must be closely monitored, but this is not new, and the atmosphere of alarm that has prevailed among Israeli commentators has little to base itself on.

Pinhas Inbari is a veteran Arab affairs correspondent who formerly reported for Israel Radio and Al Hamishmar newspaper, and currently serves as an analyst for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

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